One of the more charming touches of my stay at Langford Fivehead last week was the way they offered a cup of tea and seedcake on your arrival, a deliciously old-fashioned English cake made with caraway seeds.
Interestingly Orlando's version was different from the original which according to the site Gode Cookery was made with yeast and ale*. His was more like a madeira cake or pound cake, flavoured with citrus and much more to contemporary tastes. It would be perfect with a cup of Oolong tea or a class of light Madeira
Langford Fivehead Seed Cake
160g/6oz softened butter, if using unsalted add a pinch of salt
190g/7oz golden caster sugar, plus 1tbsp extra to glaze
1/2tsp vanilla extract
a little lemon and orange zest finely grated
3 large eggs, separated
225g/8oz self raising flour
1 tbsp caraway seeds
150g carton of natural yogurt
21cm (7inch) cake tin, loose bottomed, lined with baking paper (e.g Bake-o-Glide)
Heat oven to 170°C/150°C fan.
Cream butter with sugar, vanilla and zest. Beat in egg yolks. Mix in half the flour and half the yogurt, then the remaining half of each and the caraway seeds, until combined. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and fold in – be patient as the cake mixture is stiff. Turn into the tin and smooth top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining caster sugar, which will form a thin sugar crust.
Bake for about an hour, until a skewer comes out clean, checking after 45 minutes and covering with foil if necessary to prevent it from becoming too brown. It is a characteristic of this cake to rise to a peak and crack.
*There's also some interesting speculation on its origins on the blog Baking for Britain.